Monday, August 04, 2014

Craving a World of Less Convenience

Did you know my husband is into ... nature?
Nature and outdoors and farming and permaculture and rural life and all that kind of stuff.
He maintains a very popular blog that you can read by clicking here. He also has a fellowship in Wilderness Medicine.
Yeah, okay, so he's also a doctor. But while he likes medicine, he absolutely loves permaculture. 
The thing is, I always knew my husband was into animals and outdoors things. He's always liked them. But it wasn't until about five years into our marriage that I realized this love of all things not inside was going to kind of effect me.
I mean he's not just loving fresh air. He's like wanting to live in it. And since I plan on living with him, I get wind of the fact that in a trickling down sorta way, I'm going to have to probably breathe the fresh air too.
And I was resistent.
At first.
I wouldn't necessarily go so far as to say I'm a city girl. But I did grow up in South Florida (which is definitely not out in the country.) I have never planted anything in the ground. I have always lived close to a grocery store and a mall and a Target and modern conveniences. I've never milked a cow or anything crazy like that. 
And suddenly he's talking about living on a farm, in the country. He wants to raise most of our own food and hunt and work the land.
So I'd listen and nod and think to myself What the heck is he talking about. I mean he's reading books on mushrooms and farming zones and these books have titles like Swine Science and stuff.
I love my husband and so I attempted to at least respect this idea he had. I mean, if your spouse is passionate about something that you laugh at, it's probably going to create a little tension in your relationship. 
But then a few weeks back, we started our search for land. And as we stopped at a few farms and took a look around, I found myself falling in love.
Not with him. I'm sorta already in love with him.
But I realized I was falling in love with this idea of removing ourselves from the frantic pace of life that Americans live. I realized that our four years overseas, living a slow life void of modern conveniences, had started to open me up to this country life idea more than I realized.
A friend recently shared a blog entry she read entitled: Craving a World of Less Convenience. 
The author wrote:
"I love the idea of plain living.
How did this happen?
And how do I show others….."
In the book The Last American ManElizabeth Gilbert tells the story of Eustace Conway who at the age of seventeen, left his family's comfortable suburban home to move to the Appalachian Mountains. For more than two decades he has lived there, making fire with sticks, wearing skins from animals he has trapped, and trying to convince Americans to give up their materialistic lifestyles and return with him back to nature. 

Gilbert writes:

Do people live in circles today? No. They live in boxes. They wake up every morning in a box of their bedrooms because a box next to them started making beeping noises to tell them it was time to get up. They eat their breakfast out of a box and then they throw that box away into another box. Then they leave the box where they live and get into another box with wheels and drive to work, which is just another big box broken into little cubicle boxes where a bunch of people spend their days sitting and staring at the computer boxes in front of them. When the day is over, everyone gets into the box with wheels again and goes home to the house boxes and spends the evening staring at the television boxes for entertainment. They get their music from a box, they get their food from a box, they keep their clothing in a box, they live their lives in a box. Break out of the box! This not the way humanity lived for thousands of years.
Clever, ambitious, and always in search of greater efficiency, we Americans have, in two short centuries, created a world of push button, round the clock comfort for ourselves. The basic needs of humanity – food, clothing, shelter, entertainment, transportation, and even sexual pleasure – no longer need to be personally laboured for or ritualised or even understood. All these things are available to us now for mere cash. Or credit. Which means that nobody needs to know how to do anything any more, except the one narrow skill that will earn enough money to pay for the conveniences and services of modern living.
But in replacing every challenge with a short cut we seem to have lost something and Eustace isn’t the only person feeling that loss. We are an increasingly depressed and anxious people – and not for nothing. Arguably, all these modern conveniences have been adopted to save us time. But time for what? Having created a system that tends to our every need without causing us undue exertion or labour, we can now fill those hours with…? 

I have come to realize during our return to America that I am no longer craving convenience. Instead, I am, in fact, craving less convenience.

For four years I lived without choices.

And you know, it was kind of nice not having so many choices.

"I used to dream about the perfect house and perfect clothes. Now I find myself dreaming about fresh air and blackberry bushes. Baby chickens and maple trees. Hanging laundry and a good pair of overalls. And maybe building a cabin one day."

Five years ago I would have read those words and appreciated them but not echoed them. But somehow, this man I fell in love with way back in 1996 has rubbed off on me. As we viewed various farm properties a few weeks back, I actually said out loud, "Don't you think those neighbors are a bit too close?" And I literally slapped my hand over my mouth when I said, "But you can see a road. I don't think we want to live that close to the road do we?"

I think it took everything within JB not to raise his hands up to the sky and thank the Almighty Lord for  causing his wife to see the light. 
In Craving a World of Less Convenience Ashley Hackshaw writes about returning to the farmhouse that her grandfather had told all of his stories about.

"When we arrived at the farmhouse I think what hit us most was the remoteness of it.
What on earth did they do out here?
Where did they buy things?
Who did they talk to?
And the answer was so simple:
They worked all day.
They rarely bought things.
They talked to each other.
They shared with neighbors.
They went to church.
They were pretty darn self sufficient.
This was the American Dream.
And they were happy."


Phil Danner said...

Wendi, you and your husband are such good writers! I appreciate both your blogs and the values they express. May God bless your family and lead you to just the right place and right lifestyle for you.

Angie said...

This is a great blog Wendi! You are so right. God has blessed us with all kinds of beautiful nature and we need to enjoy and thrive in it! I love that you are embracing it!

Unknown said...

One of the BEST BLOGS ever!!!!! I am making copies if you dont mind..and sharing on facebook too..this is AWESOME and so so true! I think I just SOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOo crave simple!! :) I agree with guys are amazing writers, and that you share all this with all of us is a TRUE BLESSING!! Thank you! xo N

Anonymous said...

Have you all read Last Child in the Woods? I have not read it yet, but it is on my list. Based on the recommendation to me, it sounds like something your family might appreciate!


Anonymous said...

I just finished reading "Miracle in the Hills: The lively personal story of a woman doctor's forty-year crusade in the mountains of north Carolina" by Mary T. Martin Sloop, MD..they would get away once in awhile to Johnson City and Asheville so it's your neck of the woods. I loved it cuz we visit the little town they helped build Crossnore everytime we go our vacation to Roan Mt TN -and dream of retiring there! I think you'd love it -Tante Jan cusoonLordwilling!